Center for Public Service aims to help Ida relief efforts

Mackenzie Bookamer, News Editor

Laplace, Louisiana experienced substantial damage from Hurricane Ida. (Cecilia Hammond)

Tulane University’s Center for Public Service — which works to connect students to community partners in New Orleans — originated in 2006 amidst the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Ida, much like Katrina, devastated southeastern Louisiana, causing widespread damage. To assist in relief and recovery efforts, CPS is working with local organizations to give back to the community. 

Hurricane Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the very event that gave way to the creation of CPS.

“Given that our origins date back to Hurricane Katrina, being able to help other communities recover from a severe weather event does hold special significance for us,” CPS Executive Director Agnieszka Nance said. “But it is difficult to compare Katrina and Ida. New Orleans and Tulane’s campuses experienced far less damages with Ida than Katrina and, of course, we were spared the catastrophic flooding that we experienced with Katrina.”

“Hurricane Ida affected the New Orleans area, but to a much greater extent, it impacted the neighboring parishes, coastal communities and different indigenous cultures such as members of the Pointe-au-Chien community in Terrebonne Parish,” Nance said. 

Nance also highlights that regions outside of New Orleans — such as New Jersey and New York — were impacted greatly from Ida, which is in contrast to Katrina’s more localized destruction

Nance shares that many Tulane students, faculty, staff and alumni are currently engaged in individual relief efforts throughout Louisiana, but CPS plans to hold larger events for more members of the Tulane community to participate in. 

“CPS — and other TU units — are planning several donation drives. In collaboration with various student groups like [Community Action Council of Tulane University Students] and [Undergraduate Student Government], we have a tentative calendar for service days for interested individuals and groups,” Nance said. 

Tulane’s administration is also allowing staff and faculty to divert hours in the week away from work and towards volunteering. The intention is that this will promote the Tulane community to become involved in relief efforts. 

CPS continually offers service events for students, faculty and staff to participate in, but they have worked to provide service events specifically related to Hurricane Ida relief. They have been in contact with community co-educators in multiple local organizations to identify service opportunities. 

“We are directly supporting local communities and mutual aid organizations,” Nance said. “Initially, this will include the relief supply donation drive we have planned and the amplification of community needs via our website and social media.”

Outreach Tulane — Tulane’s oldest and largest student service event — was originally supposed to take place on Aug. 28, just one day before Hurricane Ida made landfall. Instead of the event being cancelled, Outreach Tulane will take place on Oct. 16, with supplemental service events happening every weekend during the semester. Nance said that the multiple weekends of service are a direct result of the needs of community partners.